Monday, January 14, 2013

The Perils of First Person

Current Song: Somebody that I used to Know (cause I like the vocals)

Do you know what the biggest peril of the first person perspective is?

The mirror.

That is to say, a first person perspective is a perfect mirror of the character it is rooted in. They see themselves - not just in the world around them, but in the characters and the actions of the characters around them. They reflect themselves and impose themselves on the very structure of the story.

This can make it VERY easy for a FPN (first person narrator) to make the world seem a way...

Even when it is not.

I have been thinking about this a lot while writing my novels, because quite a few of them are first person. This means that, when you read Debris Dreams or one of its sequels, you are going to be seeing the world of 2068 through the eyes of one Drusilla Xao.

Now, if you haven't read my books (or if you have and were curious about what I thought about the character that I myself wrote), Drusilla is an introverted, shy nerd whose fascination with the internet grew out of a distinct lack of attachment to her surroundings thanks to her own particular nervousness. I'd say she suffers from an excess of imagination, which is a dangerous thing in an environment that can kill you as fast as outer space.

And...of course, she was raised in a society still recovering from the biggest social/economic collapses since the Fall of Rome, with a whole generation of people who basically blamed everyone from 1940 to 2010 as being the most self centered and grossly impractical people in the history of our species who, through what amounts to an act of global criminal negligence, caused our species to almost go extinct.

She has a different view on a lot of things and she imprints this view on the world around her.

The thing is...

I don't necessarily agree with all of her views or her ideas. I may agree with some, but that is neither here nor there. What is here (and there, for that matter) is that it is my responsibility as an author to do my best to make those views come out in my writing and change in a way that feels realistic and reasonable considering what goes on in the book.

As a reader, though, YOU have a responsibility...and this isn't just for my books, this is for every book you ever read ever: You need to think about the text you read. You need to think about why a character - be they Dru, or someone else - does or acts or thinks in a certain way. You especially need to be careful when it comes to the first person perspective. a better writer than I will ever be said: A monster never sees a monster in the mirror.

So you need to be on the lookout. Are the characters you blithely reading actually hiding darkness in them? If so...think about what that says, not just about the characters, but about the world they live in and what the author might want you to see.

Have a good day, everyone!


Crossing Guard Post Script (CGPS)

Today, I saw a big fuzzy dog. I now want a big fuzzy dog.


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